How to Make Homemade Shower Gel

Four Methods:Used soap bar shower gelPure shampoo shower gelVanilla rose shower gelNote on using essential or fragrant oils

Shower gel is a luxurious alternative to bar soap, and using it with a washcloth or bath puff can create a shower experience that feels very pampering to your skin. Moreover, shower gel ensures an instant cleanse rather than having to lather up––saving precious water where needed. And since many commercial brands of shower gel contain so many ingredients which are not properly tested or even regulated (for example, the FDA doesn't have a role in approving the ingredients of shower gel ingredients in the USA), making your own is a reassurance of safety and quality. And finally, but importantly, making personalized shower gel batches yourself for little to no cost makes the experience even better––you save money!

In this article, you'll learn how to make several different types of gels, depending on what you're seeking to get out of the gel.

Method 1
Used soap bar shower gel

This gel is great for cleansing your skin and for using up all those otherwise not-so-useful scraps of soap bars that tend to accumulate. The scent of the soaps used will be blended and masked by the fragrance that you add to the gel in the steps below; however, sometimes there may be a mismatch of scents, so be careful of using any soap that you think smells overwhelming.

  1. Image titled Collect scraps Step 1
    Collect scraps of previously used soap bars, enough to equal 1 cup of chopped or grated soap.
  2. Image titled Chop the soap Step 2
    Chop the soap into bits, the smaller the better. Store-bought soap flakes can also be used.
  3. Image titled Combine Step 3 1
    Combine the 1 cup of soap bits with 1 cup of water in a pan on the stove. Stir frequently and keep at medium heat.
  4. Image titled Heating and stirring Step 4
    Continue heating and stirring the mixture until the soap pieces melt and combine with the water.
  5. Image titled Remove from heat Step 5
    Once the soap and water combine to make a smooth mixture, remove from heat and let the shower gel cool.
  6. Image titled Add essential oil Step 6
    Add any scent additives, such as fragrance or essential oils. See the Notes below for more advice though, as these need to be treated with care.
  7. Image titled Water based colorant Step 7
    Use water-based colorant (food coloring) to give your shower gel an appealing color.
  8. Image titled Grapefruit seed extract Step 8
    It's not a bad idea to add a natural antibacterial to your shower gel, such as a few drops of grapefruit seed extract.

Method 2
Pure shampoo shower gel

This method relies on using pure shampoo, which is generally kind to most types of skin. The addition of salt provides a small exfoliating quality to the gel, softens your skin, increases the gel's moisturizing properties, as well as helping to thicken the gel a little.

  1. Image titled Pour the shampoo Step 1
    Pour the shampoo into a bowl.
  2. Image titled Add the water and stir Step 2
    Add the water and stir the two ingredients together until they are combined.
  3. Image titled Add the salt and mix Step 3
    Add the salt and mix.
    • As you gain experience making shower gel, you may want to play around with the salt levels to achieve a different viscosity of the gel but don't overdo it, as salt can be an irritant in large doses.
  4. Image titled Add the fragrance oil Step 4
    Add the fragrance oil. Mix to distribute evenly through the gel.
  5. Image titled Pour into a suitable bottle Step 5
    Pour into a suitable bottle (an old shampoo bottle that has been cleaned out is ideal).
  6. Image titled Use regularly in the shower Step 6
    Use regularly in the shower.

Method 3
Vanilla rose shower gel

Based on the shower gel created in Method 2, this is a beautifully scented gel that will lift your spirits with the gentleness of rose and the uplifting fragrance of vanilla. And also, it's gentle on your skin.

  1. Image titled Make Vanilla Rose Shower Gel Step 1
    Make the shower gel base following the instructions in Method 2 above. Pour the shower gel base into the bottle. When it comes to adding the scents, follow this recipe.
  2. Image titled Make Vanilla Rose Shower Gel Step 2
    Mix the vanilla essence or extract with the rose essential oil. Add the glycerine and combine.
  3. Image titled Make Vanilla Rose Shower Gel Step 3
    Pour the scented mix into the bottle with the shower gel base. Shake the bottle well to distribute the scents and glycerine throughout the gel.
  4. Image titled Make Vanilla Rose Shower Gel Step 4
    Place in the shower ready for using. Shake well before each use.

Method 4
Note on using essential or fragrant oils

  1. 1
    Note that not everyone agrees that it is ideal to add essential oils to shower gels. If you do use such oils, never exceed the suggested amounts for adding. Moreover, always know the safety precautions for the oil in question––if you don't, then do not use it. There are some excellent alternatives if preferred:
    • Dried herbs such as lavender buds, geranium leaves, rosemary stems, etc. It can help to pulverize them first in a mortar and pestle or food processor.
    • Dried fruit such as orange slices, grapefruit slices, etc.
    • Spices, such as cinnamon sticks, star anise, ground ginger, etc.
    • Pure extracts (vanilla, almond, etc.).


  • If adding essential oils or synthetic fragrance, keep in mind that the heat from the soap burns off the fragrance somewhat, so it's better to wait until the mixture is cool. This enables you to use less fragrance as well.
  • There is a wide range of essential or fragrance oil scents to choose from. Some good ones include strawberry, chocolate, vanilla, coconut, honeysuckle, raspberry, lavender, rosemary and other herbal scents.
  • Instead of using soap scraps, substitute your favorite scented store-bought soap.
  • A crock pot can also be used to melt the soap pieces in water. This takes longer but requires less effort.
  • Grapefruit seed extract can be found at your local health food store. It is sometimes sold under the name Citricidal.
  • After perfecting and testing your shower gel, make a few extra batches to put in pretty bottles for gift-giving.


  • In the first method, don't leave the soap unattended on the stove. Keep extra water handy nearby to add if the mixture seems to be getting too dry or thick, or feels like it's sticking on the bottom of the pan.
  • In method 1, wait until the mixture is completely cool before pouring into a bottle.
  • As with any homemade cosmetic, do a skin patch test first to check for any potential allergic reaction prior to use.
  • Even with the use of antibacterials, homemade liquid soap can develop bacteria and mold if not used quickly enough. Because the soap is rinsed off quickly after showering, it usually will not present any problem with healthy individuals. If, however, you detect an off-scent to your soap or see mold/mildew forming, don't risk it and throw it away.
  • In method 2, as with any use of essential or fragrance oils, always check for contra-indications (such as pregnancy/lactating, immuno-suppression, infant or child, allergies, etc.) and do not use those oils that might impact the health of any member of the household likely to use the gel. If in doubt, talk to the specialist selling the oil or ask your usual health professional for advice.

Things You'll Need

Method 1:

  • 1-cup measuring cup
  • Sharp knife and cutting board
  • Saucepan
  • Spoon for stirring soap
  • Leftover soap scraps
  • Water
  • 5-10 drops of fragrance or essential oils; ask for advice from the herbalist if you're not sure of the amount or safety of the oil
  • Bottle for completed shower gel

Method 2:

  • 1/2 cup unscented, pure shampoo (prefer the types that are found in health food stores or in the health products section of your supermarket)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 tsp salt (try to use mineral salts or Epsom Salts for their added mineral benefits)
  • 15 drops fragrance or essential oil of choice
  • Ceramic or glass bowl
  • Wooden spoon for stirring
  • Clean bottle for storage

Method 3:

  • Shower gel base - use Basic scented shower gel but follow this recipe for the essential oil addition
  • 2 tablespoons of rosewater
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable glycerine (available from the pharmacy)
  • 10 drops of vanilla essence or extract
  • 4 drops of rose essential oil or dried rosebuds (see Tips above)
  • Mixing bowl
  • Funnel (optional)

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